Thursday, September 12, 2013

Energy Efficiency Bill on the Senate Floor!

The Senate is set to vote any day now on significant legislation to cut carbon emissions and address
climate change. Now is the time to tell your senators to stand up for energy efficiency, pollution reduction, and clean jobs.  Contact them today, while there's still time.

The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013 (S. 1392) could mean an end to the drought of action on climate change in Congress. The bipartisan legislation represents a significant step forward in the ongoing effort to pass through Congress policy that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

If passed, this bill would cut government and industrial energy waste and help homeowners finance energy efficiency improvements, among other energy-saving measures. One study, published by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), finds that this legislation will create up to 174,000 jobs, save consumers and businesses up to $15.2 billion per year, and remove up to 87.6 million metric tons of CO2 from our atmosphere by 2030.[i]

Energy inefficiency is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, not to mention that it is an added and unnecessary expense in homes and businesses.  According to a paper by the National Academy of Engineering, “building operations and materials manufacturing, the ‘built environment’ is responsible for 52 percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.”  Further, “energy lost through inefficient windows represents 30 percent of a building’s heating and cooling energy” in the United States.[ii]  This bill would take some common-sense steps toward improving energy efficiency in buildings, especially federal buildings, and would go a long way to reducing climate-change-causing emissions and saving money.

The bill was introduced by Democrat Jeanne Shaheen and Republican Rob Portman and is also called the Shaheen-Portman bill. While the bill enjoys support from both sides of the aisle in Congress, as well as advocacy groups and among the public at large, its passage is far from guaranteed. And dangerous, controversial amendments threaten to undermine the spirit of cooperation and consensus that makes the bill possible. We need your help. Please contact your Senators today and let them know that you support this common-sense bill to invest in renewable energy.

What does the Bill do?

The bill works at the crossroads of science, the federal government, and private sector companies looking to invest in a thriving, competitive economy and environmental protections that will safeguard our country’s human and natural resources for the next generation.

This bill will increase energy efficiency standards, save families, governments and businesses billions of dollars, create thousands of jobs, reduce national carbon dioxide emissions, and help reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources.  Through its passage, Congress can begin a wave of legislative solutions necessary to address the climate disruption harming our nation's people, communities, ecosystems, and economy. 

Shaheen-Portman envisions achieving net-zero-energy building by 2030, and it establishes new efficiency standards for the development of federal building codes that will help us get there. These criteria would then be codified in a transparent process. Once established, the federal government will work in tandem with state and tribal governments, as well as with the private sector, to help provide the financial support and materials needed to see that these standards are met in new buildings and retrofits. These standards do not only apply to the private sector – the federal government, the largest energy user in the country, must follow them as well.

Finally, Shaheen-Portman provides for a dynamic process to ensure the future success of energy-efficient construction. The bill encourages the Department of Energy to work with private sector partners to invest in research, to develop of innovative energy technology and to share best practices with one another.

Why We Need You Now:

With hours to go until this breakthrough legislation comes to the Senate floor, spoilers are preparing to undermine this step forward on addressing climate change. Despite the bill’s popular support and endorsement from a wide array of stakeholders, some in the Senate are eager to see its demise. They might stall the vote or, worse yet, propose counterproductive amendments in order to break the carefully-built nonpartisan consensus for progress.

Please ask your senators to keep the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill. The bill is being considered on the Senate floor, to please email your Senators this week.

Many thanks to the Friends Committee on National Legislation for much of the content of this action alert.

[i] “Economic Impacts of the Energy Efficiency Provisions in the Energy Savings & Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013 and Select Amendments,” authored by Rachel Young, Sara Hayes, Steven Nadel, Garrett Herndon, and Jim Barrett; published by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy;; accessed 9/12/13.
[ii] “Building Materials, Energy Efficiency, and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act,” authored by Robin Roy and Brandon Tinianov; published by the National Academy of Engineering of the National Academies;; accessed 9/12/13.